Recently, Verona Public Library director Brian Simons made a bold request to the city council asking for as many as 11 new employees to help staff the library and to help alleviate the stress on the current staff. It was reported in The Verona Press that some visitors to the library have become angry with the speed at which the current staff is able to respond to their requests or concerns. While budget constraints may prevent fulfilling Simons’ entire request, the City of Verona should find room in its budget for some level of increased library staffing.
Within the past decade the Verona Public Library has undergone an amazing transformation. Once housed in a small building almost unrecognizable as a library with little storage and community space, the Verona Public Library built a new facility in 2007 and transformed itself into a large, elegant example of a modern library. The beautiful, inviting facility has become an educational resource and a primary gathering space in Verona. With more space and visual appeal, the library draws residents from not only Verona but from surrounding communities as well.
Due to its own success, the Verona Public Library requires more funding in order to continue to providing high quality informational, educational and community services. Consider the following facts.
First, due to the relocation and remodeling of the Verona Public Library, it has seen a tremendous increase in the amount of library visits by the public. Verona’s library needs increased staffing to properly serve to the more-than 70 people that visit per hour. With a growing population and more students coming to Verona schools, the demand will only increase.
Second, Verona’s public library has become a social and informational focal point of the city. The library needs increased staffing in order to continue hosting informational programming and exhibits that have created this reputation. In the recent past the library has hosted popular exhibits on the Civil War, Negro baseball leagues, and World War II, and it set up a dinosaur exhibit for which it rented an actual dinosaur skeleton found in Asia. Without the critical funding such exhibits will cease to exist at the Verona Public Library.
In addition to the exhibits, the library also provides a wide variety of free classes that are not available anywhere else. Recent classes have included how to borrow books from the library on a Kindle, how to set up a Facebook account, how to develop a healthier diet, and how to avoid identity theft. With an under budgeted and understaffed library future citizens might not be able to acquire this information at the Verona Public Library.
Of course, there are also the “traditional” services provided by the library. The library is a place where people go to check out books, where they go to read, where they can go to study, use Wi-Fi or the Internet, where people can go to have meeting and hold tutoring sessions or just socialize with friends.
If Verona’s library does not get both the funding and staffing that it requires, how soon until it fails to meet its basic obligations? The library is a place that brings our community together, however the dramatic increase in the libraries customers and its circulation is causing the libraries staff to wear thin. The library already endured a 7 percent budget cut in 2012.
The Verona Public Library was winner of the Wisconsin Library Association’s “Library of the Year Award” in 2013. Verona’s library needs funding in order to maintain its high service levels to the community. The city council should see an opportunity to build on this tremendous success and grant the library the additional funding it needs and deserves.